Do you Need a Pet Trust or Will?

Do you have a pet trust or will?

As ridiculous as it may sound, these days pets are regularly being written into wills, and pet trusts. And on the surface, it may seem a little unnecessary. But once you dig a little deeper, it does begin to make sense.

Let’s assume you don’t factor your pets into your plans in the event you pass away. What happens then? If your lucky, a family member will take on the responsibility of their care. But what if your not lucky? They could easily find themselves in a shelter, and possibly even euthanased if not re-homed within a certain period of time. When you look at it like this, it seems less ridiculous, and more sensible.

So, assuming you want to prepare and plan for the welfare and care of your pet after you pass away, then there are roughly 3 ways you can do this:

1) Wills - Include your pet in your will. In this situation, it is obviously only valid after death, and effectively your pet is considered property in your estate. You can allocate the guardianship of your pet to whomever, and allocate funds for this reason. The problems with a will, is that it can often drag out for a long time before being distributed. This is an obvious concern when we are discussing the ongoing care of your pet. The other issue, is that a will is honorary, and doesn’t really stop your designated ‘guardian’ from dumping your dog in the pound, and spending the allocated money on other things.

2) Pet Trusts - Writing up a pet trust is a better way to account for the welfare and care of your pet, both when you die, and also if you become and are unable to care for the pet yourself. As opposed to a will, it does not only apply in the event of death.  In a pet trust, you can allocate who you would like to take over guardianship, how you would like your pet cared for, and how this care will be funded. A trustee will then distribute the funds to your designated guardian to be used as per your instructions in the trust. Benefits of this option, is that your pet can be cared for immediately. There is unlikely to be a probationary period, as would occur with a will. In addition, you can be more confident that the money will be spent for the right reasons, and it can commence prior to death.

3) Pet Protection Agreement - Setting up a pet protection agreement is a much more affordable, yet still legally enforceable document. It can be done quickly online, and allows you to designate a guardian, provide funding and pet care instructions. This may a good middle ground option.

Obviously these measures aren’t necessary for everyone, but I think it is something worth giving some consideration.

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